In America, Valentine’s Day traditions are fairly basic. A thoughtful card for your lover and perhaps a sweet gift of flowers, candy, or jewelry and the typical man’s Valentine’s Day celebrations are completed. Women are starting to jump on board the Valentine’s Day gift giving train and men are now becoming equal gift recipients for the holiday. Most people end the evening with a romantic dinner out and some behind closed doors romantic activity.
American tradition doesn’t typically give Valentine’s Day a lot of attention, with the exception of those who don’t have a significant other to celebrate with. Children tend to participate more than adults with large card exchanges in schools and often a tasty treat to round out the day.
The concept of card giving is relatively universal. People in most countries participate in the written expression of love. A written expression gives a person something to hang onto and to revisit if they desire.
Naturally, a common worldwide custom is the need for a date for Valentine’s Day. Nobody particularly wishes to spend Valentine’s Day alone. The notion of needing to share the day has become nearly a universal concept.
The French believe that February 14th is the common day when birds pick their partners and go off to start families. There is some speculation that the origins of St Valentine’s Day actually began with the French and the mating birds, but few historians give it much credit.
Australian’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with remarkable style. The Aussies regard this day as monumentous, much as Americans view New Years Eve. The extravagance began with the days of the paramount gold rush, where miners were able and willing to order lush valentines for their beloveds that often exceeded even some of today’s standards. These remarkable valentine cards were more than cards, they were artwork expressions. Often delivered in an ornate box, these valentines were so exclusive that they came with hummingbirds attached as an adornment.
The lavish nature of the miners carried through the generations. Australia is one of the few countries where men are ore forthcoming about their feelings and their ability to embrace the holiday. In fact men are the primary card purchasers in Australia.
India is quite exuberant about the holiday, complete with commercial hype starting weeks in advance. The symbols of the holiday remain the same as they do in the United States and most other countries with decorations of cupids and hearts littering the shops and streets for weeks prior to the holiday. India’s excitement is not only healthy for the economy, but it is healthy for morale as well. The entire country seems to have one large party of love and togetherness. It is a common day for marriage proposals and lavish pampering.
While the Chinese have a Valentine’s Day, it is not held in accordance with the western calendar. The Chinese Valentine’s Day is consider the day of the seven sister which celebrates the legend of a poor farmer granted an ox who was able to instruct him where to find the wife he desired. He fell in love with a fairy and she became his wife sent down from Heaven. The years passed and they had two small children before his beloved was ushered back to Heaven. For every year after that the two lovers were granted one night a year together, which the Chinese celebrate with festivals, the exchanging of card and candy and small gifts, wish making (especially young girls who want to be smart and available for marriage) and a host of traditions for fertility, luck, love, and longevity.
Most first world nations have nearly identical celebrations when it comes to Valentine’s Day. It is day for lovers to unite and to be together in blissful harmony. There have been more personal traditions created by individuals for this holiday than any other holiday, including Christmas. Although Valentine’s Day is finding some resistance in the United States due to the commercialism, most people find their own special ways to make Valentine’s Day unique for them.
For those fortunate enough to find the person they want to walk with through life’s joyous moments and great challenges, Valentine’s Day represents a momentous occasion. To know someone intimately, with their faults and their fears and their joys and their dreams spread out for your examination, and to know that this person is the one individual you want to wake up with and raise children with and cry and laugh with, this is the miracle of Valentine’s Day. This miracle is universal.